Dear America, the presidential debate was a wreck we should’ve seen coming


Jacqueline Barba

A letter to my fellow Americans written in the aftermath of the presidential debate held on Sept. 30th.

An open letter to the American people,

In the aftermath of the train wreck that was the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, I have seen a mixed range of emotions. Anger, shock and disbelief seem to be common reactions to the 90 minutes of yelling, interruptions and incoherent cross talk that graced the nations’ TV screens.

Many are asking how we got to this place–a space and time in history where the sitting president is unable to denounce white supremacy, instead telling white supremacist group The Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” A time where presidential candidates, men who are campaigning for the highest seat of honor in our country, cannot respectfully and clearly share their thoughts and plans regarding issues that directly impact my life, your life and everyone else’s.

A time where the sitting president refuses to ask his often violent and threatening voter base to remain calm, instead asking them to go to the polls and “watch very carefully,” a statement which seems not only threatening but also hints at his unwillingness to accept a loss graciously.

I’m here to tell you all that this moment should not surprise you. Trump and his followers are not an anomaly. This moment, this debate, the elements of it that are so upsetting to many of you–they are not an outlier in the history of our country.

No, this place in time is simply the exposure and culmination of the reality of America.

Trump is not personally responsible for the racism, ignorance and arrogance that he has risen to power with. The reality is that those things are already rampant in our country.

The pain that many of you feel watching the debate, the fear and anger that is pooling in your stomachs at the decimation of what you thought was the promise of a country where democracy, justice and equality prevail is a pain that millions of people have been feeling for centuries.

The promise of “equality, liberty and justice for all” was hollow from the birth of this nation. It excluded women, minorities and in many cases the poor. It was a promise made, from it’s conception, for white rich men.

So no, Trump and his behavior at the presidential debate, and frankly for the duration of his time as president, are not surprising. They are directly representative of an honest America. It’s ugly face has simply been brought to the spotlight.

The removal of Trump from office will not change this reality. It will simply remove the most glaring reminder of it. It will not dismantle a system and voter base that allowed him to gain office in the first place.

Real, tangible change takes place in our homes, our communities and on our ballots. The precursor to that change, however, is a comprehensive understanding of what America truly is. To make change, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that Trump’s election is one random, terrible incident in the history of our country.

Rather, we should welcome the chance to actively seek out the systems, policies, mindsets and beliefs that will make the promise of America a reality. An America where there truly is equality and justice for all is not intangible or unreachable. It is a goal we can work towards, if only we have the courage to recognize we have not yet reached the goal.


A fellow citizen